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Lionel Messi ‘practically didn’t speak’ but now he’s a leader - Ayala

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Lionel Scaloni’s assistant has described his development

FBL-COPA AMERICA-2019-BRA-ARG Photo credit should read DOUGLAS MAGNO/AFP via Getty Images

Argentina assistant manager Roberto Ayala has been talking about how Lionel Messi has changed as he has grown older and become captain of both Barcelona and the national team.

The former defender, who played alongside Messi for La Albiceleste, says he used to be a quiet member of the squad but now leads by example both on and off the pitch.

“Messi likes to be treated like anyone else,” he said.

“He’s a very closed person who has grown a lot in the last few years. Today, he’s a leader on and off the pitch.

“When he first started, we were teammates - he practically didn’t speak. What’s more, he would go out and train because he had to.

“If not, he would have stayed in his room. Today, he participates in everything: he talks with his teammates, he asks them how they are. Even before matches, he talks a lot.”

Source | 90min

Messi has been particularly vocal away from the pitch this season. He was quick to respond to criticism from Eric Abidal, led the way when it came to players taking pay cuts because of coronavirus and has also hit out at “fake news” linking him with Inter Milan.